"Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians where life is "intolerable, appalling, tragic" and the Jewish state appears to have thrown away the key, a UN human rights envoy said on Tuesday.
Special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory John Dugard said that the suffering of the Palestinians was a test of the readiness of the international community to protect human rights.
"If ... the international community cannot ... take some action, [it] must not be surprised if the people of the planet disbelieve that they are seriously committed to the promotion of human rights," he said in a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
"Israel violates international law as expounded by the Security Council and the International Court of Justice and goes unpunished. But the Palestinian people are punished for having democratically elected a regime unacceptable to Israel, the U.S. and the EU," Dugard said.
Palestinians living between the barrier and the Green Line, the frontier at the end of the 1967 Six Day War, could no longer freely access schools and places of work and many had abandoned local farms, he said.
"In other countries this process might be described as ethnic cleansing but political correctness forbids such language where Israel is concerned," Dugard said."